Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Interesting.  Yesterday I got an email from what looked like the folks who publish AVG anti-virus software.  It was a rather detailed invoice for renewal of the AVG license for a mere $59.99.  I had not renewed my license since I never purchased one in the first place.  The interesting thing was that my credit card company had sent me a “Do you recognize these purchases?” email eleven minutes earlier!  Not trusting either email, I called Capital One and was amused to find that their voice automation system also knew about the bogus charge and after several “security checks” connected me to a customer service rep who also seemed to know her job!  Long story short, I now have to wait “4-6 business days” for a new card and probably much longer to determine which security breach the Phishers got my information from. 

This was likely a personal email account.  At least I hope a law firm would do a better job of securing their email. 
This is like the third case I can recall like this.  Julia Marsh reports:
A former Lehman Brothers executive unwittingly wired a $2 million deposit for a $20 million Manhattan apartment to cyber criminals — and now he’s blaming his real estate attorney and her vulnerable AOL email address for the breach.
Robert Millard, who was a managing director at Lehman and now runs the private investment firm Realm Partners, and his wife Bethany Millard hired Long Island lawyer Patricia Doran to help them buy a co-op last year.
While in contract, Doran’s email was hacked and the cyber criminals intercepted communications about the purchase, according to the Millards’ Manhattan civil suit.
Posing as Doran the hackers sent the Millards wire transfer instructions to a bank that purportedly belonged to the seller.  They wired $1.938 million to the TD Bank account.
Read more on NY Post.
If you’re buying a home or property, do NOT trust emails purporting to be from your broker instructing you to wire money.  Call them to confirm before wiring any money!

This is just sad.  When you testify before Congress and clearly have no clue how technology works, you are pretty much shooting yourself in the foot. 
Poll: Voters trust tech companies ahead of FBI on data security
A majority of voters trust major technology companies to protect customers’ personal information more than the federal government, according to a poll commissioned by The App Association. 
The results released Monday found that when given the choice, 54 percent of voters said they trust companies like Apple, Google and Facebook to do a better job securing their personal information.  Another 21 percent chose federal agencies like the FBI ahead of tech companies.  A large portion did not choose either.

Would anyone notice?  Good question.  Have they noticed anything yet? 
How Facebook Could Tilt the 2016 Election
   Could this happen? Would Facebook be able to single-handedly stop Donald Trump—or any other presidential candidate?  It’s a question that some at Facebook appear to be asking.
At the end of every week, Zuckerberg holds an internal question-and-answer session for employees.  Usually before these sessions, the company circulates a poll internally asking what concerns he should address.  On March 4, as one of these polls circulated among workers, many employees voted to ask him: “What responsibility does Facebook have to help prevent President Trump in 2017?”
This survey’s existence was first reported by Gizmodo. Facebook hasn’t yet commented on whether Mark addressed this question or what he said.
   Gizmodo hypothesizes one way that the company could step in.  By gradually wiping pro-Trump stories from its feed, Facebook could suffocate a campaign that has run on free media attention.
“Facebook wouldn’t have to disclose it was doing this, and would be protected by the First Amendment,” writes Michael Nunez, a Gizmodo editor.

Good for my researching students.  I wonder if they know how to use Google to research “inside the book?” 
High Court Won’t Hear Copyright Challenge to Google Books
   The last major development came in October when a federal appeals court in New York ruled for Google.  That left the Authors Guild with one more option: asking the nation’s highest court to review the case.  The group filed a petition to the high court in late December.
The dispute involves the boundaries of “fair use,” the legal doctrine that permits unauthorized copying in certain, limited circumstances.  The Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concluded in October that Google’s scanning millions of copyrighted books wasn’t infringement because what the company makes viewable online is so limited.

It will be more complicated to fly your drone than to fly a light plane VFR. 
NASA plans major test of drone management system
   Called UTM, for unmanned aircraft system traffic management … allows drone operators to enter a flight plan and request clearance for the flight.  The system checks the plan for conflicts with other planned drone flights and accepts or rejects it.
For example, a farmer could program a drone flight above her land, effectively reserving it for a certain period of time, and then carry out the flight in the knowledge that a delivery drone scheduled to arrive at the same time will automatically calculate a path to avoid a collision.

(Related) You would think there would be some evidence.  Apparently there was no detectable damage, nor has anyone discovered “drone wreckage.”  Perhaps it was a UFO? 
'Drone' hits British Airways plane approaching Heathrow Airport

Ha!  My wife already does that!
7 Ways to Control Your Home Using Voice Commands

I still don’t get it.
What is blockchain and how does it work?
Blockchain technology backs up Bitcoin to this day, but there’s been a recent groundswell of interest from a variety of industries in making distributed ledger technology work.
A blockchain is the structure of data that represents a financial ledger entry, or a record of a transaction.  Each transaction is digitally signed to ensure its authenticity and that no one tampers with it, so the ledger itself and the existing transactions within it are assumed to be of high integrity.
The real magic comes, however, from these digital ledger entries being distributed among a deployment or infrastructure.  These additional nodes and layers in the infrastructure serve the purpose of providing a consensus about the state of a transaction at any given second; they all have copies of the existing authenticated ledger distributed amongst them.

(Related) …and why I need to get it.
Ransomware Uses Blockchains to Transmit Decryption Keys

Might be fun and all my classes are in computer labs.  I could ask questions about the assigned reading! 
Kahoot App Brings Urgency of a Quiz Show to the Classroom
Kahoot, an online quiz system from Norway that is fast gaining market share in schools across the United States, plays out like a television game show spliced with a video game.
Cast in the role of game host, teachers introduce a multiple-choice quiz — on, say, plant life or English grammar.  Using the Kahoot platform, they project one quiz question at a time onto a whiteboard or screen at the front of their classrooms.
Players typically have 30 seconds to click an answer on their laptops, tablets or smartphones.  They earn points for correct choices, and extra points for clicking faster.
During the answer period, Kahoot emits a catchy countdown tune, reminiscent of retro video games like Monkey Island.  A gong sounds when time is up, and the classroom board immediately tallies the class’s correct and incorrect answers.  Next, a leaderboard appears, ranking the top five students by points accrued.

For my Spreadsheet students.
4 Mistakes You Can Avoid when Programming Excel Macros with VBA

Something to consider as we build a new student blog.
It's a new blog!
   You can read more about it in Creating a blog for your non-techie significant other; the path to Ghost but as the title suggests, the solution was ultimately to move her to Ghost.  And then I got a bit jealous because her site looked so damn good!  It doesn't just look good, it's all HTTPS, loads super-fast and is a joy to work with.
   One more thing before I get into the details; this blog is running on Ghost Pro which is their commercially hosted version of the otherwise free Ghost blogging platform.  A lot of people have suggested I should host it myself on Azure or Digital Ocean or similar and I have absolutely zero interest in doing that for a blog.  Let me explain.

We’re looking to use a bunch of older computers to power a “almost-super” computer.  This might be useful.
LXLE Gives Aging Hardware a New Lease on Life
   LXLE -- short for Lubuntu Extra Life Extension -- taps fewer system resources than Xfce, making it just as fast and a bit more compatible with aging hardware.
It features security fixes, updated SeaMonkey (the default Web browser) packages and various small visual improvements. It is an easy-to-use alternative to other Linux derivatives.

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